Obituary of Judy Roker-Franklin
Judy Clarise Roker-Franklin was born in New York City on July 25, 1942 to the late Vivian Earlene Roker and John Arlington Roker. On October 23, 1977 Judy married David Whitford Franklin. Theirs was a very special union and they remained devoted to each other to the very end. On their forty-first anniversary, after being ill for almost a year, Judy entered into eternal life. For most of their married life Judy and David resided in their home in South Orange, New Jersey. After retirement they decided they would like to enjoy milder winters so, along with Judy’s mother Vivian, they relocated to Sun City Center, Florida. Judy and David devotedly cared for Vivian until her passing on February 1, 2017.
Judy was educated in the New York City public school system. After graduating from John Adams High School she traveled to Wilberforce, Ohio to attend Central State University. Judy enjoyed her college days and made many dear and lifelong friends including Bettie Williams, Charlotte Gillette and Wallace (Skip) Johnson. In 1965 Judy was awarded a B.A. degree and returned to New York City to begin a career in public service. At the start of her career Judy combined her natural people skills with the training she received at Central State and worked in the anti-poverty programs that were so active in the ‘60’s. When funding for those programs dried up she transferred to the Internal Revenue Service where she was able to use her finely honed interpersonal skills in dealing with employee relations.
Judy’s single life after graduation was by no means all work. Judy loved music, dancing and travel. Along with friends Judy travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America. She especially enjoyed her trips to Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.
Judy, with the wisdom she exhibited even as a child, delayed marriage until she met the perfect man for her, David Franklin. David shared Judy’s love of music, dance, travel and more importantly faith and family. Judy and David continued to travel after marriage eventually though spending most of their vacation time in St. Maarten in the Dutch West Indies. St. Maarten indeed became their second home. It was widely suspected that only love of family and Medicare kept them from migrating.
Judy and David had no children of their own but especially cherished relationships with children of all ages. They were generous with both gifts and time with young people whether related or the children of friends. Young people returned this love. It is no exaggeration to say that the highlight of Judy’s last summer was cousins Leiland and Martha Solomon traveling to Sun City in a car packed with their children and siblings to surprise Judy for her birthday. The happiness engendered by this surprise visit somewhat offset the grief Judy was feeling at the loss earlier this year of her cousin Eric (Butch) Samuels. Judy considered Eric like a brother and considered Eric’s life partner, Barbara Thomas like a sister-in-law.
Her loving and devoted husband David survives Judy. Among those that will miss Judy’s love, counsel and laughter are her great aunt Ruby Woodard Peters, her brother-in-law Milton Franklin and his sons Philip and Todd; sister-in-law Dorothy Meade, her daughter Myrla Parrish and grandson Galton Van Sluytman. Her God-children Richard McDade, Kimberly Robinson Santos and Imani Solomon will especially miss Judy. Also mourning Judy are her cousins Barbara Young and husband Roscoe; Mary Grace McDade, Leslie Pinckney and partner Larry Stewart; Herbert Smith, Chloe Solomon, Diana Duggins, Renny Roker, Denise Gill, Miriam Horsford and Adele Roker. Judy dearly loved the children of her first cousins; unfortunately they are too numerous to be listed here as are her many friends.
The family would like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to those who cared for Judy and Vivian and continue to care for David. Among them are Kenny Haynes, Carlene Scott, Hope Romero and most especially Janice Barnes.